Homeowners could pay more for water operation Along with improvements comes switch in service for Brooklyn Park area

November 27, 1995|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Upgrading the water mains in Brooklyn Park will improve service, provide better fire protection and cost homeowners more for water than they have ever paid before.

Anne Arundel County officials want to spend $8 million to clean, reline and repair the clogged 60-year-old water pipes, which belong to the city of Baltimore. The 3,100 customers would be put on the Anne Arundel system.

In Baltimore, water fees are subsidized by city taxes. The average quarterly water bill is $25.54, and the sewer bill is $37.47. Anne Arundel County has no comparable subsidy. The average quarterly water bill is $36.30, plus $68.83 for sewer service.

For the average homeowner, the increase could total $170 a year for water and sewer service.

The county and city are negotiating for the transfer of service.

"There have been no firm commitments made," said Adrienne Barnes, spokeswoman for the city Department of Utilities.

County officials expect resistance when they pitch the transfer to the affected neighborhoods in January. The old water system extends on both sides of Ritchie Highway from the city line south to Walton Avenue.

"It's a very knotty problem," said Tom Andrews, the county's chief land use officer. "It's an older system. And the people are older."

Community leaders say homeowners expect their water payments to cover the cost of clean water, good service and proper maintenance, no matter who supplies the service.

"It's not an incredible amount of money. But to most people here, they are older and they are on fixed incomes. Everything goes up except the Social Security," said Frances Jones, president of the Arundel Improvement Association in Brooklyn Park. "We paid our dues years ago when we bought these houses."

Mineral deposits have built up in the metal pipes for 60 years, constricting water flow. Anne Arundel County would line the large water mains with concrete, replace some of the narrower pipes, put in new home connections and hook everything into the county's network.

"What it is going to come down to is, those residents are going to have to pay higher rates," said John Brusnighan, the county director of public works. "They would like Baltimore City rates and county service. That's just not possible. If they are going to be our customers, we all pay the same thing."

Mr. Brusnighan said his department would like to start work in July and finish by fiscal year 2000.

The lack of water pressure in the neighborhood became apparent Oct. 28, 1994, when firefighters battling a house fire in the 100 block of W. Seventh Ave. got very little water from a nearby hydrant, said Battalion Chief J. Gary Sheckells, county Fire Department spokesman. Gaynelle LeMaster, 73, died in the fire, and her family was left homeless.

Each hydrant must supply 1,000 gallons a minute to fight a fire, but tests of 13 area hydrants by the Baltimore Department of Utilities found flow rates ranging from 93 gallons a minute on Seventh Avenue and Marshall Road to 950 gallons a minute on Southerly Road and Ballman Avenue.

When firefighters encounter a deficient hydrant in the area, they use hydrants on Ritchie Highway, where water pressure is greater.

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